Weronika Balewski

International Experience Country:
Cohort Year:
Home Institution:

Carnegie Mellon University

Heinz Programming Area:
Arts and Culture
International Experience Summary:

Weronika Balewski spent seven weeks in Peru, splitting her time between Lima, a sprawling metropolis on the coast, and Ayacucho, a medium-sized city in the Andes. In Lima she studied 20th-century Peruvian literature at the Universidad Católica, visited museums and parks, attended concerts, and absorbed the attitudes and lifestyle of limeños. The pace changed drastically when she left Lima. Even though many people from Ayacucho lamented the crazy traffic and fast-paced life in Lima, Weronika found she was much busier in Ayacucho. Many contrasts became apparent: the poorly-maintained highways and lack of social systems in Ayacucho highlighted the historical centralization of Lima. She studied the internal armed conflict of the 1980’s, between the Peruvian military and the Shining Path terrorist group, which had actually started in the very university where she had her classes. The history class was an immersive experience, intellectually and emotionally challenging because signs of past violence and injustice were all around her in Ayacucho, one of the hardest-hit areas during the conflict. Weronika was also deeply affected by her work at Los Gorriones, a house for abandoned and orphaned children. She spent most of her time playing with the disabled children and  taking them on walks. This was a huge growing experience, beginning with much awkwardness and ending with a deep love for the kids. Weronika also learned about traditional and classical music in Peru. She learned how to play the quena, the Andean wooden flute, and zampoñas, Andean panpipes. On weekends she visited nearby towns and mountains, local farms, artisan workshops, and archeological sites, ending with a tour of Cuzco, Machu Picchu, and the Sacred Valley of the Incas.

Community Engagement Experience Summary:

CEE Title: International Music and Lessons in Local Schools